Monday, 18 April 2011
An unsubmitted writing prompt I found
This is an old one that I never posted. It was done as part of a writing prompt and I just couldn't get it down to the 600 word limit. As I was editing it the power went out and I lost most of the changes I had made. You're just getting it as I found it, without the edits, so you may wind up feeling (as I do) that it's kind of left hanging or incomplete.... sorry....
We were just kids cruising along in that 1970 something Dodge Aspen Coupe, Sarah and me with our legs sticking to the vinyl seats and belting out the chorus to The Joker.
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker…
That car was Army green and never since have I seen an uglier car.
Yeah, I take that back. I forgot about that 1989 Toyota Tercel I had. It had more rust spots than paint, one windshield wiper on the driver’s side and a Bacardi 101 box covering the hole where the glass had been busted out of the back window.
If you guessed that we called that ugly green Aspen “The Tank”, you’d be right. The windows were down trying to compensate for the lack of A/C, hair blowing this way and that and laughing at some joke only known to us.
I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover and I’m a sinner….
You’ve not experienced summer until you’ve experienced it in the south. Arkansas weather is fickle with its hundred degree days with 100% humidity. The air is thick and sticky in August. It clings to your skin leaving you feeling like just maybe you could peel the layers off if you could just get the beads of sweat, tickling as they roll down your scalp and between your breasts, to dry.
It’s the only place I know where you pray it don’t rain in August because it will only make it hotter and more sticky and clingy than you thought humanly possible.
That kind of heat is what inspires us country folks to say things like, “Oooh Lawd, I am sweatin’ like a whore in church.”
Sarah, she was younger than me but she’d already done everything I hadn’t. I was the good girl – the girl who never got into trouble, the virgin and the girl who’d never drank anything stronger than red kool-aid with a little extra sugar. And Sarah, bless her soul, was showing me everything I’d been missing while held fast under the protective wing of my mother and the local First Baptist Church.
Her aunt trusted us with that car. I wonder if she’d had any idea how many times Sarah and I were cruising the back roads in that car, doing things we shouldn’t have been doing, if she would have granted us the freedom of using her car. “Road Trippin”, that’s Friday night fun for poor kids in the small town south. We’d spend four dollars for five gallons of gas and a buck seventy five for a pack of Marlboro Reds.
I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree….
We’d been to the mall that night. That was my first adventure ever driving outside our quiet little town. We thought we were something else riding around in that ridiculous car and chain smoking those Marlboro’s like we thought folks would forget how cool we were if we stopped to take in a little oxygen between puffs.
We’d asked a random stranger exiting the mall how to get to another mall across town. Perhaps, not being familiar with navigating outside our town, we should have written those directions down. Perhaps we shouldn’t have driven to the outskirts of the first mall’s parking lot to smoke that left handed cigarette before we got on the interstate. Perhaps then, we would have exited to the right on I-630 and not to the left on I-440. Perhaps then, we wouldn’t have driven 30 miles in the wrong direction before realizing we were nowhere near our destination, but instead we were almost Pine Bluff – crime capital and gang capitol of Arkansas.
Yeah, you city folks laughing that Arkansas has a gang capitol need to do some research. For years, Pine Bluff was on the top ten most crime ridden and gang ridden cities in the country. Country folk got a whole different take on being a bad ass. We ain’t afraid to get dirty unlike ya’ll with your shiny shoes and manicured nails.
Ah lovie dovie, lovie dovie, lovie dovie all the time. Oh wee baby I sure show you a good time…
We stopped at some convenience store to get directions.
“Where the hell are we and how the f*** do we get home?” I asked that clerk. Yeah, I thought that addressing an adult with language made me cool too – even cooler than not bothering to leave my lit Marlboro in the car before going in to get directions.
Needless to say, we didn’t make curfew that night. We rolled into the driveway 30 minutes late. Karen didn’t say a word to us. I just laid the keys on the counter and hoped she wouldn’t expect me to raise my head and let her see my bloodshot eyes.
I think though, that was the night she finally figured out we were generally up to no good. We were never allowed to take the car out again.
Shortly after that I met D’s dad and Sarah and I grew apart. Sometimes, I still wonder about her. Did her life turn out ok? Is she happy?
As for what happened next with D’s dad…well, that’s another story and I’ll have to think of what parts of that one need tellin’. I’ll get back to you on it.
Posted by Erica Tomlin